trulia

Trulia in the Zillow Era

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2015

As an analyst for many brokerages, franchises, and MLSs, WAV Group looks carefully at reports from publishers to understand dynamics that can be leveraged to enhance performance. Sometimes, we encourage firms to keep their strategy the same. At other times we encourage trying something new or redeploying investment. I like Trulia’s reporting. It is something that other publishers (including their parent company) could benefit from. Below I will provide a discussion about each. Leads – in their purest form, leads count. Even bad leads. If you are a broker and you are not producing leads for your agents, you may have another problem. Good leads are better. Have the office managers look at the leads every week. Lets face it. There are not that many to call it a huge job. Look at the ratio of leads to listings. Is that number going up or down. Generally speaking, most brokers see the most volume of leads per listing from Trulia and the highest quality of leads from MLS consumer sites or Realtor.com Visits – The whole idea of having a link to the broker website is to drive consumer traffic to your broker website. Hopefully your website will delight them and the consumer learns that they can get great service on top of great listing content there. Look at your lead conversion ratio by publisher. How many leads do you convert from traffic that comes from Trulia or other publishers? What is your bounce rate? If you do not know how to track this stuff, WAV Group can help. Listings – The key number here is accuracy. Are all of your listings on the site? Most brokers find that the number is off. Do an audit! Look at the data sheet to see which ones are missing or should be removed. Look at the listing price to make sure it is accurate. There are always problems with this because of overlapping data feed disorder and trumping rules. It is spaghetti that solid broker data management policy can repair. Views – We tend not to look at views very carefully, mostly because we do not know if the views are machines scraping data from Trulia or real consumers. It is more interesting to see analytics on property detail page views and I would love to see more granular information like time on page, photos viewed, and exits. Reading The Changes These […]

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MLS Not Ready for Direct Syndication

by Victor Lund on May 5, 2015

In no small way, the impact of Zillow and Trulia being disconnected from ListHub has caused troubled waters for many MLSs. Although ListHub continues to manage syndication to a wide number of sites, they no longer support two of the top five. What’s the plan? MLSs are scrambling in every direction today. The biggest issue has been the data license agreement to Zillow. Everything was neat and tidy when ListHub had one agreement with each portal. Now Zillow is faced with hundreds of MLS agreements all with different terms. According to MLS executives, that is Zillow’s choice. Efforts by legal firms to negotiate on behalf of groups of MLSs have been shunned by the Zillow Group in favor of individual contracts. Comedic Tragedy: Each Zillow Group agreement is confidential. It begs the question, how can the MLS inform the broker of what is in it? MLS Technical Issues The ListHub service has two features. The first is the broker dashboard for syndication preferences. The second is the data distribution server. The broker dashboard is the critical ingredient for direct syndication. It puts brokers in charge of where their data goes through a process known as broker opt-in or broker opt-out. MLS data distribution servers from most vendors (called RETS servers) do not have a broker dashboard feature. Some MLS system vendors like FBS were quick to add them. Rapattoni launches tomorrow. CoreLogic is planning their launch roll out with customers now. Paragon is in the research and planning stages. Beyond that, I am not sure. Third Party Services Technology firms like Onboard Informatics, Real Estate Digital, Bridge Interactive and perhaps others have developed MLS solutions with enhanced features for managing and reporting on listing distribution. These services are typically found in large MLSs with more enterprise data management needs. Most smaller MLSs use the vendor solution or rely on ListHub. The Need for Communication A lot is changing everyday. Zillow is out trying to get agreements signed with over 800 MLSs. Most MLSs are not talking to their brokers about their preferences. Most brokers do not know what the readiness state is for the MLS to support direct syndication feeds. If you are a broker, call every one of your MLSs and figure out what’s going on. If you are an MLS, be sure to ask brokers what their preferences are and get feedback before making decisions. MLSs would do […]

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Struggling with your Direct Feeds?

by Jenna Woodruff on March 17, 2015

Direct to portals, syndication platforms, virtual tour companies, online marketing products…the options for brokers to distribute listings seem endless. They all offer varying features, benefits and service levels, making it hard to determine what will give their businesses a competitive edge. Many brokers are at the mercy of agents using services that distribute listings without their knowledge; creating inaccuracies and liabilities, and eroding their brands. MLSs are in the unique position to offer brokers unmatched listing distribution services through strong data licensing agreements. A key benefit that only MLSs can offer is faster listing updates. When listings are not delivered and updated quickly, the risk of error increases along with the liability for inaccuracies, loss of quality leads and negative customer experiences that harm your members’ brands. Today, more tech savvy brokerages are experimenting with direct-to-portal data feeds, while more traditional firms are turning to their MLSs to help them compete. Direct feeds ensure the accuracy of data and are the fastest way to deal with the urgent need to get listings in front of consumers first. Join WAV Group partner Marilyn Wilson as she moderators this RE Techinar™ on what the best path for achieving this is. You’ll hear the perspectives of 4 industry experts with over 70 years of combined experience in a wide variety of roles. Special guests include: Kipp Cooper, CEO of The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors and the North Alabama MLS Dave Garland, Manager for Rainmakers Consulting Group and Principal at Pacific States Capital Alon Chaver, VP of Industry Services, Trulia John Whitney, Director of MLS Business Development, Trulia Moderator: Marilyn Wilson, WAV Group and RE Technology Register now to join the discussion!

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I had the honor of working with the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS® today. They hosted a Town Hall asking for input on whether or not their brokers would like them to negotiate a Direct Feed from the Zillow Group on their behalf.  Michael Bustamante did a great job of framing the issues that need to be discussed and ultimately decided upon. While the issue is anything, but clear cut, there were interesting questions posed that may be helpful for you to use in your market as you try to think your way through your market’s decision about direct feeds. 1.     Potential Need/Impact – What percentage of your market’s listings are already being syndicated through franchises?  In this market, more than half of the listings were being syndicated through about 7 franchises.  You may want to check and see how many of your franchises already have a direct feed in place. This will help you understand what percentage of your listings are actually affected by a direct feed coming from the MLS. 2.     How many are participating?  If you currently have Listhub in your marketplace, you can get a sense of how many of your listings are currently being syndicated to Zillow and Trulia. 3.     What are the trade-offs?   The Zillow Group is offering priority placement for Listing Agents, prominent MLS attribution and a few other goodies.  Ask your members how important these trade-offs are for them.    Each MLS will likely negotiate their own terms, but you can begin with the program that has been outlined publicly. 4.     How committed are your brokers?  How important is Zillow and Trulia to your broker’s success?  There are a lot of schools of thought are the role and importance of third party sites in broker success.  Poll your brokers and find out where they come out on this topic.  If they believe these sites are an important part of their marketing mix then the next question is whether they want the MLS to negotiate a program on their behalf or if they would prefer to go it alone. 5.     Longer Term implications – While many brokers believe that Zillow and Trulia help them secure listings, some are worried about the long-term impact of such a fundamental partnership.  Ask them what their longer-term concerns are. What happens when third party sites have data that is high quality as broker sites?  What could happen to […]

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The Real Benefit to Z and T Merger

by Victor Lund on October 13, 2014

Big advertisers need big media sites. Zillow is big and Trulia is big, but they are not huge.  The hugest would be Facebook. Think of the Madison Avenue crowd. Both companies have sales staff pitching pretty much the same value proposition. That sales team now turns into one. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff pretty much said exactly this in an interview with Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money (http://business-news.thestreet.com/crookstontimes/story/jim-cramers-mad-money-recap-now-is-not-the-time-for-panic/12861526) “Rascoff noted that when it comes to the Internet, user experience rules. Once you have an audience the advertisers will follow, he said, which is why the Trulia acquisition makes sense. Zillow will operate both brands when the acquisition closes, allowing users to pick the brand that fits them best or advertise on both platforms” WAV Group has seen this before, but not at this scale. For example, when a large phone carrier wants to target real estate agents, they come with a budget of $1 million or more to spend. There are not enough B to B impressions to fill that order. I presume by extension that Zillow and Trulia will combine to go after the huge online advertisers – Fortune 100 types.  Furthermore, they have put a moat around the business with Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate, MSN Real Estate, AOL Real Estate, Scripts, and 360 Newspapers. Aside from the MOVE network, it is pretty hard to access homebuyer and sellers at scale without going through the Zillow network. Better yet, Zillow and Trulia will not undercut each other’s prices. The fact remains that the homebuyer and seller impression value is far above the current rates because of the amount of money they spend in the home transaction process. Thousands of dollars are up for grabs. We saw some other signals this week that will continue to play out if the merger is successful. Brokers will be able to negotiate terms with both sites in concert. Although the pricing for each site may be different, the principles around things like fair display guidelines are likely to apply to both sites. Most firms treat Z & T as a category of sites. They treat MOVE differently because of the National Association of Realtors affiliation to realtor.com. For example, I imagine that the Edina Realty agreement with both sites was pretty uniform, and Allen Tate’s choice to drop both was pretty uniform. Not being involved in either of those transaction, I […]

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Today’s News Summary

by Victor Lund on September 30, 2014

News represents change in real estate. It also represents staying the course. There were lots of both today. Not knowing what to expect, the industry unloaded today. Bullets were flying everywhere. The MOVE acquisition by News Corp was the headline – If you look at our post on it, we have added the letter that NAR sent to the membership, the letter that MOVE sent to the industry, and the press release. Taking the temperature on this, it is probably a good thing. The only big concern is that REA group from Australia has investments in the top 3 portals in America. They are minor unless you give credence to The Motley Fool http://www.fool.com.au/2014/06/25/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-rea-group-limited/ In their country, the price of a premium ad for a listing is $2000 per month – most agents pay $1000 per month for online advertising. We are miles from that in America where brokerage firms pay about a buck or two for listing enhancement. The Australian model is not sustainable in the USA. Edina Direct Syndicates to Trulia (and Zillow)? Trulia sent an email to the world today that Edina is sending listings directly to them. You can read the entire story here http://www.trulia.com/industry/announcements/edina-direct-agreement-with-trulia/ I did not make any calls to fact check what I am about to say, but here are my instincts on the matter. Real Estate Digital (RED) provides a variety of web services to Edina and some of the other Home Services brokerages. For syndication, RED offers a product called REData Vault. REData Vault is a solution that provides the brokerage with a number of features that are not included in other syndication solutions, and since RED is already handling their data – it makes direct syndicaition easier and includes a link back to the agent or broker website (RED already has the URL). With REData Vault, Edina can also allow firms to manage exactly what information goes to publishers – number of photos, modified description text, etc. You probably can also imagine that Edina has a pretty square agreement on fair display of their listings on Trulia and Zillow. Online advertising works when done carefully. You can be certain that this is being carefully monitored. Clearly this is a big win for Trulia and Zillow and they deserve it. They earned Edina’s trust, and it took years of persistence and learning about the principles of Edina Realty. That is exactly the way that you […]

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Coldwell Banker Chooses Imprev

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2014

Today’s real estate firms, franchise or otherwise, need to provide a robust marketing solution for agents that especially support them with digital marketing tools: Video, virtual tours, eMail marketing, and social media marketing. In an announcement today, Coldwell Banker announced a partnership with Imprev to power their digital marketing suite for all of their franchise companies. There are a number of firms that offer marketing solutions, but the two firms that have dominated the selection among franchise organizations in the past years include Marketleader and Imprev. Strangely enough, until a few years ago, Imprev was Marketleader’s partner for their marketing suite, jointly providing a full solution to Keller Williams, unit Marketleader purchased SharperAgent in 2011. At the time of the acquisition, SharperAgent claimed 30,000 customers and Marketleader claimed 50,000 customers. Marketleader then went on to sign up a number of large franchise organizations, including Century 21. Today, the Marketleader suite is a business unit owned by Trulia who is in the process of being acquired by real estate portal leader, Zillow. No doubt, this announcement for Imprev is significant. Imprev has had a nearly decade-long standing relationship with RE/MAX and recently launched an automation platform with Berkshire Hathaway’s largest brokerage, Fox and Roach Realtors (a solution that is tightly integrated into CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve platform). Imprev shows with Coldwell Banker that it can connect to Leadrouter, which is a standard used by other Realogy franchises. Congratulations to Imprev and to Coldwell Banker’s 84,000 sales associates. Since over 80% of a firm’s business comes from sphere marketing – marketing suites like Imprev are critical service offerings. disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post. Press Release Coldwell Banker Unveils New eMarketing Platform Madison, N.J. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced an agreement with Imprev, Inc. to power the Coldwell Banker® brand’s fully mobile eMarketing platform. Coldwell Banker eMarketing is part of the new Coldwell Banker 360 suite of products that give Coldwell Banker independent agents and brokers access to a platform that delivers an extensive range of exclusive designs and marketing content and allow them to easily engage with consumers via the Web, email and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. “Our new Coldwell Banker eMarketing platform will make it easier for Coldwell Banker agents to connect with prospective home buyers and sellers while increasing productivity,” said Sean Blankenship, senior vice president […]

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Trulia Weekly Update Is Released

by Victor Lund on September 24, 2014

I don’t really know if this is just something that Trulia is testing or if this is something that they rolled out system wide, but I received a lovely real estate update this morning It is not a heavy piece, but it certainly popped in my inbox 18 New Listings, 2 open houses, 9 price reductions, download mobile app, home value lead capture, and median sales price. Aside from my first impression of the execution being very positive, it made me wonder…… Where else would this type of daily email be a practical way to touch professionals or consumers? For the MLS The heart of any MLS is the agent’s hot sheet. It is a customizable widget that gives them a snap shot of what they are tracking in their business. The hot sheet recognizes pre-defined queries that the agent configures. I am a big fan of push reporting, and to me, the Hot Sheet is a report. I would love to see MLSs send the hot sheet by email to every agent every day. Moreover, office managers could see a snapshot of their business every day. Broker owners can get a hot sheet of all of their offices. Better yet, think beyond email and integrate this as a notification on your mobile device. For the Broker I hate to admit it, but there are only a handful of brokers who are able to drive consumers to their website at a level that enables them to compete for the consumer share of voice. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com and Homefinder have swiped the consumer away. Only the largest firms, MLS consumer sites, and franchises in America can live in the top 10 real estate websites in their area. Unless there is a significant event of disruption, third party websites will control the spread of real estate information to the widest audience of consumers. Most of our clients who hire us to monitor the effectiveness of their online marketing are premium partners with some mix of Trulia, Zillow, Homes, and Homefinder. However, we also have a handful of brokers who have gone the other way and eliminated syndication. Both strategies work. Regardless of your online strategy, you need to keep a watchful eye on features that will keep you competitive. Take a page out of Trulia’s playbook and send all of your registered users a market update. Trust me, if your customer […]

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Allre Causes Brokers To ReThink Strategy

by Victor Lund on September 18, 2014

The FSBO dam just sprouted another leak, and brokers better pay attention. If you have not heard about Allre, you better watch the video below right now. It is collaboration between banks like Prime Lending, Home Insurance providers, home warranty companies, and even a lock box vendor to facilitate FSBO sales. The fee to the consumer is ZERO – nothing. There are no brokerage services at all, so they completely surpass all RESPA regulations. It is 100% FSBO. The only thing that will sit between Allre and success is venture capital. If they attract enough venture capital to attract the consumer, traditional brokerage is going to hit a wall. WAV Group is a strategy company. To remain competitive, businesses need to act in ways that allow them to survive in a fast changing market place. In the case of Allre – they are only launching in San Diego. Perhaps the industry at large does not need to hit the panic button yet. However, you probably need to pay close attention. I know that we will. San Diego is a high value market place. According to Zillow, (http://www.zillow.com/san-diego-ca/home-values/) the average home price in San Diego is $492,000. As a side bar, I did a Google search for “the average home price in San Diego and the only broker who had the information was ZipRealty – an article from 2012; Trulia Voices had a question about home building; and the best first search result was Zillow. Where are all of the Brokers, Associations, and MLS answers? Why The Business Will Work Everyone talks about the 6% commission rate – but my research shows that the number may be a bit lower in actuality which is line with the Allre CEO talks about in her pitch. It makes San Diego a ripe candidate for this style of opportunity pursuit. That is enough incentive for FSBO buyers and seller to take a risk and sample the service. I would not be surprised to see a similar service pop up in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Francisco, and other high-end real estate markets in California. If you average sales price is below $200,000 – the incentive for FSBOs to save money is less attractive. Driving Consumer Traffic Today, there are a number of third party websites that allow for FSBO listings. They already have lots of consumer traffic buoyed by a great consumer search […]

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The End Of War Between Zillow and Trulia

by Victor Lund on August 13, 2014

There is a major war going on in the taxi industry today. Uber and Lyft are duking it out. Both companies have deep cash pockets and they are deploying it in marketing and undercutting each other. It is pretty hard to know which service is better as they work hard to drive market share. As Zillow marches toward the stock swap to join forces with Trulia, perhaps a new wisdom of that transaction will reveal itself. They just avoided a very expensive war where the two of them may have killed each other off to reign supreme. It is pretty clear that the company that spends the most to attract the consumer is the company that gets the most traffic. Sure, the site itself is important in terms of usability or in terms of features like AVM, mortgage information, agent ratings, rentals and the like. But the real reason why these companies have the traffic they have is that they take every dollar they bring in from agents and brokers and buy more traffic. Many industry analysts have long term concerns about the voice of real estate not being a broker or an agent or part of the REALTOR family. Those are reasonable concerns that any incumbent would have in the face of new competition. But look at the facts. These companies are marketing the entire real estate industry on the back of investor dollars more than ad revenue from agents and brokers. Even if you want them to go away – be sure to thank them for the advertising first. They built the mulit-billions in value in their business. As an aside – Uber and Lyft have grown their value to $18.2 billion. I guess the taxi booking business is big business. Remember, market-share lead does not assure success. These companies are hopeful that it will, but in the interim, some brokers and agents are riding on the returns from their investment in reaching the consumer. They are putting more dollars to work than the dollars that you pay J We expected this value to continue for many years as Trulia and Zillow independently competed against each other by deploying dollars from their IPO. With the merger, these companies are not likely to be injured by competition between the two of them. They are on the same team. It will be time for Realtor.com and Homes.com to step up. Competition […]

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Zillow Announces Trulia Acquisition

by Victor Lund on July 28, 2014

Two of America’s third party real estate portals have entered into a definitive agreement for Zillow (Z) to purchase Trulia (TRLA) for $3.5 billion in stock-for-stock trade. The Board of Directors of both companies have agreed to the transaction which represents a 25 percent premium to Trulia Stockholders, based on Trulia’s closing price on Friday, July 25, 2014. The transaction will now face regulatory approval. Goldman, Sachs & Co. brokered the transaction. Trulia CEO Pete Flint will retain that title, join the Zillow Board of Directors along with one other designee, and will remain the leader of the Trulia.com business unit. He will report directly to Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff. The two companies will carry on doing business as usual. The strategy for the merger outlined five key benefits for the companies: Faster Innovation – Combining development resources will allow the companies to accelerate innovation for consumers and professionals. Greater Access to Free Real Estate Market Data – Companies expect they will combine their data management, trend analysis, and forecasts. Broader Distribution – Home sellers and their agents, brokerages, and participating MLSs will benefit from seamless free distribution of listings across even more platforms to reach an even larger audience of consumers. Enhanced Value and ROI for Advertisers – The companies expect to offer shared services, marketing platforms for advertisers, enhance agent productivity and marketing, and deliver greater return on their investment. Corporate Cost Savings – By operating independent consumer brands though one corporation, the companies expect to realize synergies to improve operational efficiency over the long-term. By 2016, management expects to achieve at least $100 million in annualized cost savings. There were a few interesting data points in the press release. The first was that the advertising universe is a $12 billion dollar market – a remarkable number reported by Borrell Associates produced by a survey response. The second is that these companies combine to attract just 4 percent of that online advertising buy. Today, there is still more money being spent on newspapers than the combined online spend across all online portals. This represents a healthy strategy for both companies. It is anticipated that the combined companies will be able to do things like: leverage the same data management processes, same publisher agreements, same sales people, same marketing, same billing, etc. For brokers and agents using these services, it will be much easier to manage one relationship rather than two. Unfortunately, it may be six months to […]

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Trulia To Collect More Agent Data

by Victor Lund on August 5, 2013

To optimize your online effectiveness in the real estate business, you need to think strategically. This is the kind of strategic thinking that WAV Group works with brokers and franchises on every day. When a company that does a great job at online marketing and search engine optimization focuses on a strategy like enhancing agent information, we pay attention. Typically, when Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, or homes.com makes a change, it is with intent to find improvement. It’s the way everyone should think. Why Agent Profiles Are Important When consumers search, they use keywords. In our broker website effectiveness study, we learned that most consumer keyword searches that direct them to broker websites involve the company name or the agent name. A robust agent profile increases the likelihood of a consumer selecting an agent. If you have not Googled your broker name or agent name in awhile, you should do so, and look at the results. Broker Name Keyword Search Trends Brokerage Name keywords generally display the brokerage website at the top of the list. If they are a franchise, the franchise page for the brokerage tends to follow, then it becomes a bit random from there. Yellow pages, Yelp, and a host of other sites are fighting for top slots. *The only portal that I recognized in my sampling of brokerage searches was homefinder.com. They build company landing pages on their site for brokerages that seem to get indexed quite well. Agent Name Keyword Search Trends Agent name keyword searches yield different results. If the agent has a website that uses their name, that is typically the top result. Beneath that, you will typically find social media sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Yelp, etc. Beneath that, you may find the broker website or the franchise website. *Today, my testing did not yield any portals who display on the first page of Google search results for any of the names I tested (20 top producers from around the county). Why Should You Care? In 2008, if you used Google to search for a property address of a home for sale, Realtor.com, a franchise website, or the broker website appeared at the top of the search results. Today, broker websites rarely appear on the first page of Google for an address search at all. When you do see a broker, it is Redfin, ZipRealty, Wiechert, or a few of the mega brokers like Long […]

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Trulia buys Marketleader

by Victor Lund on May 8, 2013

In a release today, Trulia announced that they are buying Marketleader. As a result, Trulia has taken ownership of a brokerage. That means that they can compete with other online brokerages like Redfin, ZipRealty, Sawbuck, Movoto, and others. However, I do not think that is their strategy. There is a persistant paradigm emerging in the portal business whereby these companies combine the portal with technology products and services offered to agents and brokers. Operating a portal that relies on ad spending alone does not seem to be sustainable for the type of growth and stable recurring revenue for investors. Advertising has, and always will be a volatile business. Offering deeper levels of products and services to agents is a classic cross-sell opportunity. Move was the first portal to recognize this strategy, and has a suite of products that begin with Top Producer and expand from there. Zillow has followed the same path with their acquisition strategy of DiverseSolutions. Homes.com offers HomesConnect for agnets and brokers and powers many of the largest franchise sites in America. With Marketleader’s suite of products, Trulia can now provide agents with more leads, offer marketing on RealEstate.com, HouseValues, JustListed, as well as Trulia. They can move that buyer lead directly into agent websites backed by full contact management solution, drip marketing, and excellent market analytic reports. For sellers, they have a full marketing suite with flyers, postcards, virtual tours and of course – the ability to market that seller listing up through the portals – Trulia, realestate.com, etc. One of the advantages that Marketleader has developed in the marketplace is training. They learned years ago that the way to retain agent customers is by making them better sales people. They train and motiviate sales associates everyday. They have excellent coaches that help agent understand how to navigate the treacherous waters of technology. They also have the most active professional social network with ActiveRain, a place where agents help other agents. The Marketleader management and development team also brings significant industry experience to Trulia. Trulia has always excelled at being consumer centric, now they have deeper bench strength at being agnet-centric. This link on RE Technology provides a 360 degree overview of Marketleader – product list, product ratings, product reviews, company announcements, and other articles. Here is the note from Trulia this morning announcing the purchase: Earlier today, we announced that we have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Market Leader, one of the real estate […]

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October 3, 2012—The WAV Group today published the results of an independent study of 11 major markets that found local real estate brokerage websites give consumers the most complete, accurate and timely information about homes for sale. The study evaluated sites from three local brokerages with real estate agents who help consumers buy and sell homes, comparing listing search results to those found on two national portals, Trulia and Zillow, which operate almost exclusively online. In the markets analyzed, the study concluded: Local real estate brokerage sites display 100% of the agent-listed homes for sale compared to about 80% for the national portal sites. Local real estate brokerage sites show newly listed homes for sale seven to nine days earlier than national portals. Local real estate brokerage sites almost never show a home listing as active that has already sold; about 36% of listings that appear as active on national portals are no longer for sale. The WAV Group, a national consultancy specializing in real estate technology, conducted the study. Independent analysts verified the study data, record by record. Redfin, a technology-powered broker with more than $5 billion in home sales sponsored the study.  Listing data from the websites of Long & Foster, one of the largest independent real estate brokerages in the U.S. and Windermere, the largest regional real estate brokerage in the Western U.S., was also included in the study. “We analyzed a sample of more than 6,000 listings in 33 zip codes in 11 markets, comparing the data on various websites against 14 local Multiple Listing Services,” said WAV Group CEO Victor Lund. “The findings are clear: real estate brokerage websites showed by far the most homes for sale, recognized which homes were no longer for sale, and displayed new listings much earlier.” The source of brokers’ advantage is direct access to local real estate databases. In each U.S. city or area, all real estate brokers subscribe to a local association known as a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to share the listing data collected by their agents with consumers. Each MLS tracks locale-specific attributes about listings, noting for example which Seattle homes have waterfront access or which Virginia homes are historic. Only real estate brokers can be members of a local MLS. In contrast, national portals mostly rely on individual agents or real estate brokerages to re-post MLS listings on the portal websites, or the portals aggregate […]

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Average Time on Market

I am a big fan of client servicing portals that leverage full MLS data rather than IDX data. The key here is that the consumer can see the full compliment of business intelligence powered by the MLS. Clearly, days on market, price changes over time, and recent sales history in the area are the fundamental elements of understanding listing price. Market Analytics are really helpful in informing predictions on what will happen in the near term for hyper local markets and hyper refined property attributes. If days on market for a 2 bedroom condominium in a building in San Francisco is 8 days; and three identical units have sold in the past 2 weeks – you can predict that the new listing in that building is also likely to sell in 8 days – especially if the listing price of the condominium unit is within the boundary of the list to sale price of comparable units. Consumers need to know this information and agents need to be able to share it with buyers dynamically. The technology exists, but it is off in a product silo that consumers cannot access. There are plenty of companies that have analytic solutions that show pricing and market velocity (here is a list), but for illustrative purposes, I will reference Pricing Analysis which is a component of Terradatum’s AgentMatrix product, also known as Clarus Resource in California. Pricing Analysis uses the full compendium of MLS data facts to predict days on market for a particular property at a particular price. It is astoundingly accurate. Comparable homes pricing below the market sell in fewer days on market. Comparable homes pricing above the market take longer to sell. (note: Terradatum has proven that homes initially priced high are more likely to finally close for prices below the average). Every day, millions of listing alerts are sent from real estate professionals to consumers. These consumers have enrolled in automatic notifications that inform new listings and updated listings (like price changes). It would truly be a beautiful thing if these listings alerts said something like “Based upon data from the MLS, this property is likely to sell in ____ days.” Click here to see market data that explains why. Let the race begin to develop this functionality. Here is my prediction. Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia will have this feature available to the public faster than any other company. Listingbook […]

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dotLoop and Trulia partner up

by Victor Lund on August 2, 2012

Press Release: SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Aug 01, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — INMAN CONNECT — dotloop, the first real estate software company that eliminates paperwork and Trulia, a leading online marketplace for homebuyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals, today announced a partnership to simplify the real estate process from search to close. As part of the partnership program, Trulia and dotloop will jointly promote their online real estate services to agents and homebuyers. Under the partnership, Trulia and dotloop will jointly promote both services to member agents, and help simplify real estate transactions by bringing the process online. More than 20 percent of real estate agents in the US and Canada currently use dotloop to eliminate paperwork in their real estate transactions, and approximately 40 percent of active real estate agents use Trulia. “Real estate is rapidly moving online as consumers at every stage of the process expect a more digital experience,” said dotloop CEO Austin Allison. “We’re proud to partner with Trulia to help agents satisfy that demand and to simplify the entire process around real estate transactions, from marketing to consumers on Trulia to easily closing deals on dotloop.” “Every day, Trulia connects agents to our engaged audience of consumers, a large number of whom are planning to move,” said Trulia CEO Pete Flint. “This partnership is a natural extension for agents meeting buyers and sellers on Trulia to sign and close on a transaction with dotloop.” Both Trulia and dotloop offer free products for agents and their clients to use. To find out more, visit www.dotloop.com and www.trulia.com/truliapro today. About dotloop Dotloop is transforming the real estate industry by providing a secure online platform where any real estate agent can share and electronically sign transaction documents in real-time. As the leading provider of collaborative negotiation services, dotloop is available to service all real estate professionals throughout the United States and Canada. The innovative dotloop platform is a collaborative, wholly web-based negotiation platform that lets users add, adjust, approve and sign documents digitally — addressing the challenges of security, efficiency and overhead costs in today’s real estate industry. For more information, please visit www.dotloop.com . ABOUT TRULIA, INC. Trulia gives home buyers, sellers, owners and renters the inside scoop on properties, places and real estate professionals. Trulia has unique info on the areas people want to live that can’t be found anywhere else: users can learn about […]

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Trulia Launches Mobile Agent App on Adroid Phones

by Marilyn Wilson on May 30, 2012

Trulia Logo

Trulia and other online portals understand mobile very well. They clearly recognize that mobile will be the primary user experience of both consumers and agents today, and evermore in the future. In this latest announcment, Trulia provides a mobile solution aimed at engaging the mobile agent and connecting them with consumers in the best possible way. This is a great strategy; but it begs many questions. Where is the broker mobile strategy? Most brokers and franchises depend on telephone and email for connecting agents with inquiring consumers. It works, but mobile apps work better. I would expect to see franchises and brokers follow Trulia’s lead. Will every portal offer its own app? I envision an environment today whereby agents will need to have apps for all kinds of online websites – franchise sites, broker sites, and every third party sites. This fragmentation may well undermine the overall effectiveness of this strategy as agents wrangle with these disparate solutions. Check in at open houses.  This is a pretty cool feature. It shows which agents are spending the time learning the inventory. The impact of this feature remains to be seen, but it has interesting possibilities. Who owns the Lead? Trulia says that the agent keeps the contact and that is articulated in their terms of use-but the contact is “shared” for use on Trulia. I have always been concerned that these companies may be selling consumer lead information out the back door to other types of interested parties. It looks like Trulia is closing the door on this, which is good. Agents are slow to respond to online leads. Trulia is trying to address the problem. Here is a paper we wrote a few years ago that colors just how bad agent responsiveness is. It will be great for the consumer if Trulia solves the issue with this strategy, and agents will likely find higher conversion rates too. Here is a link to the paper – it is worth a read – or a re-read. TRULIA LAUNCHES MOBILE AGENT APP ON ANDROID PHONES – Press Release TO BOOST PRODUCTIVITY FOR REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS Trulia is the first company to build agent-dedicated mobile apps that allow agents to respond rapidly to new leads and demonstrate local expertise with listing check-ins SAN FRANCISCO – May 30, 2012 – Trulia.com, a leading site for homebuyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals, today announced the availability of the […]

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Are App Stores the Next Zillow or Trulia?

by Mike Audet on May 16, 2012

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I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the idea of App Stores in the real estate technology industry and it has raised a number of questions that I want to put out there to inspire a conversation with the industry. Let me say right up front that I am not neutral in this discussion, as I am one of the founders of RE Technology which has, as an option, the ability to create an eCommerce store which is different, but related to, an App store. My partner Victor did a great job of discussing the differences in his post titled: “Explaining an MLS App Store”. So, while I may not be unbiased in my perception of the the whole concept of an app store I welcome any and all feedback on the questions I am raising because the more I think about this approach the more concern I have on multiple levels. As Victor explained, the three typical components of an App Store are: A common platform (like the iPhone) Online delivery eCommerce enabled The process goes like this; a user sees something they like in the store, they click the button and presto, they are ready to install and use the technology product. This all sounds good at first blush. The App Store that is creating the buzz at present is the FBS “Spark Platform”.  Their website puts it this way: “The Spark Platform connects software developers with Multiple Listing Services to provide innovative tools for brokers, agents and their customers.” The idea behind Spark, as I understand it, is to allow vendors to develop to their API (Application Product Interface) in order to access the MLS data to use in their product. Ideally this would make it easier for vendors who now have to navigate many different interface requirements from MLS to MLS and endure the costs this brings with it. It also would help the MLS with the issue of not having to send their data out to work with vendors. Rather, the vendors would create products that work with the FBS (Spark) API to pull data as they need it. Users would come to a store, pick their software, purchase it, install it and the software would get loaded on the “Spark Bar” for easy use. Here’s where things get a little tricky in my mind. When the users pay for the software or service a percentage, let’s say 30% of the […]

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Onboard Targets ListHub Reports with New Product

by Victor Lund on May 9, 2012

Onboard Logo

In a press release found below, Onboard announced the launch of Listings 360 insight Advisor. This product is a reporting solution like Listhub Reports, and FREE!  However, Listings 360 does not include syndication at this time. The first customer in line to release the product is Chicago multiple listing service provider, Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED). Connecticut MLS (CTMLS) and Metropolitan Regional MLS (MRIS) have also licensed the solution for their subscribers. WAV Group spoke to MRED CEO, Russ Bergeron to understand the strategy behind the launch. Bergeron indicated that MRED likes to offer more than one product option when there will be a benefit to their customers. MRED has already put the tracking code into connectMLS™ system so that their subscribers will be able to provide consumers with search traffic reports that include the MLS system. “This is important because the MLS system has many times the number of property views of publisher sites.” MRIS offers Listhub, RE DataVault, Anti-Scraping technology, and Onboard in an effort to support brokers in managing and protecting data in the best possible way. To enhance adoption of Listings 360 Insight Advisor, all new RETS data feed recipients will be required to include the Listings 360 Insight Advisor tracking code in their application or they will be in violation of the MRIS RETS data feed agreement. The good news in the release is that Trulia has agreed to participate in the program. Today, Trulia withholds “views” information from the Listhub reports. Unfortunately, REALTOR.com, Homes.com and a number of other popular sites is not included in Listings 360 Insight at this time – but the move by MRIS and other MLSs may be a game changer. At the end of the day, the most important reporting feature is that ability to give a seller a report about where their listing appeared, how many times it was viewed, and the number of online inquiries. Unfortunately, there are still hurdles for both companies to deliver that accurate and comprehensive report. The challenge is to get every company publishing listing information to participate in the reporting program or programs. Listhub has a head start, as Onnboard enters the race. I believe that for any of these reporting features to truly have an impact, the MLS must follow MRIS and others by requiring the inclusion of the tracking code everywhere the data is presented – All publisher sites, all […]

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for-rent

Every agent I know is looking for new opportunities for generating additional revenue.  At the same time I hear again and again that many agents are not interested in working on rental properties because there’s “not enough money in it”. Driven by this ambivalence, many MLSs are ignoring the rental market. This perspective is a HUGE mistake, in my view.  Let me share some “fun facts” with you to help you understand why I say that… First: Did you know that experts are now predicting that rental properties will constitute up to 40% of the overall residential real estate market over the next several years? Current trends further suggest that up to 25% of the residential market in 2012 and beyond will be comprised of domestic and foreign investors creating rental properties from the distressed real estate inventory. Second: Are you aware that leading online rental sites collectively generate over 40 million visitors every month?   To put that in perspective, Zillow only generates about 25 million visitors per month.  Along these lines, have you ever noticed how every mobile app for the large portals are now focused on BOTH for sale and rental properties? Third: Zillow just purchased rentJuice for $40,000,000!    They don’t invest that much money just for their health!  They recognize the important shift in consumer’s thinking and they are going to capitalize on it! Fourth: What do you think will happen with renters over time? As the market continues to strengthen, and many reach a time when they want to have a family and backyard, they will inevitably want to purchase a home.  It’s important for brokers and MLSs to WELCOME renters so that when they ARE ready to buy a home, you will already have a relationship with them and they will be comfortable searching for properties with you and on your website. WAV Group has been talking about the need to jump on the rental market for some time, yet very few in organized real estate have responded to this important and urgent need.  There are exceptions of course; Kudos to Utahrealestate.com who now overtly markets both for sale and for rent properties!   Utahrealestate.com is already the number one property site in Utah and they are going to likely maintain that position by offering this important new feature!  Great job WFR MLS! It’s about time for every Broker and every MLS in the United States […]

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